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Philosophische Zeitschrift der Kant-Gesellschaft

Ed. by Baum, Manfred / Dörflinger, Bernd / Klemme, Heiner F.

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CiteScore 2016: 0.14

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2016: 0.163
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2016: 0.224

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Volume 107, Issue 1


Kant’s Political Philosophy as a Theory of Non-Ideal Normativity

Christoph Horn
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  • Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn, Institut für Philosophie, Am Hof 1, D-53113 Bonn
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Published Online: 2016-03-20 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/kant-2016-0005


Kant’s political philosophy confronts its interpreters with a crucial difficulty: it is far from clear if (or how) Kant, in his political theory, makes use of the Categorical Imperative (CI). It is notoriously demanding to clarify the relationship that exists between his political thought on the one hand and the ethics of the Groundwork and the Critique of Practical Reason on the other. There are basically two interpretative options available: the more traditional dependence reading and the somewhat provocative separation reading. Following the first option, the normativity included in ‘right’ (Recht) is immediately derived from the normativity of the ‘Moral Law’ as we know it from the 1780s. According to the second reading, Kant’s legal normativity is substantially different from what we know as those foundations and procedures on which the Categorical Imperative is based. In this article, a third interpretation is defended that tries to combine the advantages of the previous two. In the political realm we are, according to Kant, dealing with a somewhat different type of normativity which still shows some connection with the moral law. It turns out that Kant’s political normativity is not just a kind of ‘applied ethics’. Kant has formulated a non-ideal form of normativity, according to which ‘non-ideal’ means: a weaker version of normativity which can be lived up to by human beings, which is appropriate to specific situations and which is intended for a long-term effect, namely that of a historical development.

Keywords:: Categorical imperative; Kantian idea of morality; political normativity; legal theory; philosophy of history

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Published Online: 2016-03-20

Published in Print: 2016-03-20

Citation Information: Kant-Studien, Volume 107, Issue 1, Pages 89–110, ISSN (Online) 1613-1134, ISSN (Print) 0022-8877, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/kant-2016-0005.

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